We all need to feel connected to others, and those with Alzheimer’s disease are no exception. But as the disease progresses, it can become increasingly difficult to know just what to say – and how to say it – without adding to the confusion and frustration that often go hand in hand for those with dementia.
At Compassionate Nursing Services, our specially trained dementia caregivers understand firsthand the challenges associated with successfully connecting with those with Alzheimer’s disease, as well as the importance of overcoming the trepidation many people feel when trying to communicate with a loved one who has dementia. We’ve found the following tips to be especially helpful in bridging the communication gap:
- Above all, remain calm and positive. Those with dementia may pick up on your underlying, unspoken feelings, and often respond accordingly. A cheerful, relaxed countenance will help set the mood for the conversation.
- Ask one simple question at a time. Questions with yes or no answers will be easiest for the senior to understand and respond to, and verbal cues are always helpful as well, such as showing the person the cookies as you’re asking if he’d like one.
- Be prepared for possible agitation. Having a plan in place will help you be prepared for any agitation your loved one experiences. Distraction and redirection are good tools to help those with dementia regain a sense of calm, after first acknowledging the person’s distress; i.e., “I see that you’re feeling upset, and I’m sorry. Let’s take a little walk.”
- Step back in time. Since those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia often better recall memories from the more distant past, guiding the person to reminisce is often a wonderful way to connect.
Although it can feel a bit uncomfortable to initiate and keep conversations going when your senior loved one is confused by the symptoms of dementia, it’s crucial for his overall health and wellbeing to maintain social connections.
For more communication tips to enhance the life of those with Alzheimer’s disease, contact the professional dementia caregivers at Compassionate Nursing Services. We believe in seeing and caring for the whole person, never just a particular condition or disease. Our specialized dementia care allows family members to rest assured that their senior loved one is in the most capable, patient, and compassionate hands at all times. We invite you to contact us at 314-432-4312 to learn more.